Meet the Poets: W.S. Merwin

W.S. Merwin
1971, 2009 Pulitzer Prize Poetry
2010 United States Poet Laureate

“Any work of art makes one very simple demand on anyone who genuinely wants to get in touch with it. And that is to stop. You’ve got to stop what you’re doing, what you’re thinking, and what you’re expecting and just be there for the poem for however long it takes.” — W.S. Merwin.

30+ books of Poetry, Translation, and Prose

William Stanley Merwin (September 30, 1927 – March 15, 2019) is an American poet, credited with over 30 books of poetry, translation and prose. During the 1960s anti-war movement, Merwin’s unique craft was thematically characterized by indirect, unpunctuated narration.

Buddhist philosophy and Deep Ecology Influences

In the 1980s and 1990s, Merwin’s writing influence derived from his interest in Buddhist philosophy and deep ecology. Residing in Hawaii, he writes prolifically and is dedicated to the restoration of the islands’ rainforests.

Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (1971 and 2009)

Merwin has received many honors, including the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (in both 1971 and 2009) and the Tanning Prize, one of the highest honors bestowed by the Academy of American Poets, as well as the Golden Wreath of the Struga Poetry Evenings.

United States Poet Laureate 2010

In 2010, the Library of Congress named Merwin the seventeenth United States Poet Laureate to replace the outgoing Kay Ryan. Note: Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress—commonly referred to as the United States Poet Laureate or Poet Laureate of the United States.

More information can be found at

Photo Source: Fair use of book cover of ” W.S. Merwin: Selected Poems.”

Meet the Poets: Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg NYWTS

Carl Sandburg
1919, 1951 Pulitzer Prize Poetry
1940 Pulitzer Prize History

His Own Style

“I make it clear why I write as I do and why other poets write as they do. After hundreds of experiments, I decided to go my own way in style and see what would happen.” – Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg (January 6, 1878 – July 22, 1967) was an American writer and editor, best known for his poetry. He received three Pulitzer Prizes: two for his poetry and another for his history, a biography of Abraham Lincoln.

Influence of Poetry Magazine

Sandburg was almost unknown to the literary world when, in 1914, a group of his poems appeared in the nationally circulated Poetry magazine.

Chicago Poems, Cornhuskers, and the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

Two years later his book Chicago Poems was published, and the thirty-eight-year-old author found himself on the brink of a career that would bring him international acclaim.

Sandburg published another volume of poems, Cornhuskers, in 1918, and wrote a searching analysis of the 1919 Chicago race riots. These collections lead to the 1919 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

Rootabaga Stories

More poetry followed, along with Rootabaga Stories (1922), a book of fanciful children’s tales.

The Rootabaga Stories prompted Sandburg’s publisher, Alfred Harcourt, to suggest a biography of Abraham Lincoln for children.

The success of Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years

Sandburg researched and wrote for three years, producing not a children’s book, but a two-volume biography for adults. His Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years, published in 1926, was Sandburg’s first financial success.

Abraham Lincoln: The War Years and the Pulitzer Prize in History in 1940

With the financial success, he moved to a new home on the Michigan dunes and devoted the next several years to complete four more volumes, Abraham Lincoln: The War Years, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1940.

Sandburg continued his prolific writing, publishing more poems, a novel, Remembrance Rock, the second volume of folk songs, and an autobiography, Always the Young Strangers.

In 1945 the Sandburg family moved with their herd of prize-winning goats and thousands of books to Flat Rock, North Carolina.

Complete Poems and the Second Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1951

Sandburg’s Complete Poems won him a second Pulitzer Prize in 1951. Sandburg died at his North Carolina home on July 22, 1967. His ashes were returned, as he had requested, to his Galesburg birthplace. In the small Carl Sandburg Park behind the house, his ashes were placed beneath Remembrance Rock, a red granite boulder. Ten years later the ashes of his wife were placed there.

Photo Source:
Articles Sources:  Pulitzer Awards 1919, Pulitzer Awards 1940, and Pulitzer Awards 1951

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